8 bold predictions for the Minnesota Vikings 2021 season

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) Dalvin Cook /

Cook will lead the NFL in rushing yards

When the Vikings entered their bye week with a 1-5 record last season, something had to change. Kirk Cousins chucked an NFL-leading 10 interceptions in the team’s first six games and the defense wasn’t living up to its reputation under Mike Zimmer.

With the offense struggling, Zimmer made the decision to lean on the running game, and Dalvin Cook was up for the challenge. In his final nine games of the 2020 season, he ran for 1,068 yards and nine touchdowns, willing Minnesota back to a .500 record but ultimately falling short of the playoffs.

Cook’s performance guarantees that he’ll be the focal point of the offense this year, but it comes with some risk. During his brilliant stretch, he averaged 28 touches per game. That average put him on pace for 400 touches before sitting out Week 17 due to his father’s death, but it could set him up for a monster season in 2021.

If we extrapolate Cook’s usage over a 17-game season, Cook would wind up with 1,989 rushing yards but also 476 touches. That’s bad news for Cook’s long-term outlook, but it’s great news for Zimmer, who is taking a “2021 or bust” approach to this season.